A DISABLED mum has told of her horror after being forced to wait nine hours in an ambulance outside Glasgow’s flagship hospital during severe asthma attack symptoms.

Laura Miller spent hours inside the van with two paramedics while struggling to breathe on two occasions – the first on September 8 for around five hours after a sudden asthma attack and the second just days ago with, what has now been confirmed as, coronavirus for four hours.

The mum-of-one says she was left in pain and frightened after making the short journey from her home in Knightswood to the A&E department at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Laura has battled severe asthma for more than a decade and has spent much of her life in a wheelchair after being diagnosed with debilitating fibromyalgia 20 years ago.

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The 48-year-old, who praised the efforts of paramedics on both occasions, said: “I’m waiting for bloods – simple things – and we’re having to listen to a woman on the walkie talkie constantly begging for ambulance staff.

“I’m lying in the back of an ambulance and people could be dying.”

After a five hour wait, during which Laura claimed she had to be transported in and out of A&E by paramedics who helped her go to the bathroom, she was able to receive the necessary treatment for her asthma attack.

As previously reported, Scotland has been faced with an ambulance “crisis” in recent weeks. The army and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) have been enlisted to drive some non-emergency vehicles to ease the pressure.

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) was “operating at its highest level of escalation”.

Speaking in Parliament, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “With the continued increased demands on services across health and social care, we must ensure that the vital services provided by our NHS are protected as we move into a challenging winter period.

“This means we must continue with a measured and consistent approach to remobilising and renewing across our system, learning from the pressures we were subjected to over the last year and maintaining the ability to quickly respond and intervene, where necessary.”

However, weeks after Laura’s initial hospital visit, the family was dealt another blow when her husband of more than a decade, James, tested positive for Covid-19.

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Days later, both Laura and her nine-year-old son also began to exhibit symptoms of the disease.

However, the terrifying ordeal sparked confusion for the family who couldn’t be sure if Laura’s severe breathlessness and deliriousness was caused by the virus or another asthma attack.

Her terrified husband and son watched on in horror as they frantically waited for the emergency services to arrive.

Again, she was rushed to the hospital and this time, she claims, she waited outside in another ambulance for four hours.

She said: “I’m constantly passing out, severe sickness, struggling to breathe. I’m sweating, they had to help me to the toilet.

“I didn’t know what was going on but it was difficult.”

A spokesperson for NHSGGC apologised for the lengthy delays.

They said: “We apologise to any patients who have had to wait longer for emergency care.

“The QEUH, like all our hospitals, is facing significant pressures and our staff are working extremely hard to continue to treat emergency patients at this very challenging time.

“As well as those people self-presenting at our Emergency Department (ED), our ED must also accommodate patients who arrive via ambulance through the Specialist Assessment and Treatment Area which adds to existing pressures.

“Within Greater Glasgow and Clyde we continue to treat significant numbers of patients with Covid-19 alongside emergency, trauma, cancer and very urgent cases.”

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They added: “Covid-19 also restricts our ability to transfer patients out of hospital into other appropriate care environments such as care homes which are also being impacted by staff absences. This means we have high levels of occupancy within the hospital which leads to patients waiting longer in the ED for a suitable bed.

“Waiting times at QEUH are further compounded by high numbers of patients who present at the ED without emergency life-threatening care needs. Over recent weeks we have seen a significant increase in patients self-referring to the hospital – the majority of whom do not need admission.

“This causes additional pressure on the department and this is why we continue to urge patients to consider alternative routes to care, and to either first call NHS24 on 111, speak to their local GP or utilise their local pharmacy.

“They will most likely be seen quicker, and receive the right care than if they come to our ED.

“The remaining patients presenting at our ED are often sicker, having held off from seeking medical attention over the past 19 months due to Covid-19 which means their condition often requires more complex treatment, compared to pre-pandemic levels where they would have been discharged and managed faster.

“To help combat current challenges in addition to encouraging patients to consider all treatment routes, we have also recruited 670 newly qualified nurses and more healthcare support workers, a significant number of whom will work in the QEUH.”